About The Belonging(s) Project
An American Dream is a new kind of opera—one whose story comes not from myth, or fiction, or current events, but from the opera company’s community. Seattle Opera’s Belonging(s) Project, started in 2011, asked participants to respond to the question: “If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you? Why is that object, that memory, or that connection to your past so important?” Dozens of responses were filmed and compiled into a digital quilt.
Seattle Opera then commissioned librettist Jessica Murphy Moo and composer Jack Perla to weave threads from this digital quilt into a new opera. The World War II experiences of two Seattle women, one Japanese American and the other German American, inspired the fictional tale of two families in An American Dream. Moo returned for additional interviews with the two women and immersed herself in the period.
Incoming General Director Aidan Lang, who joined Seattle Opera in 2014, was delighted by the work that had been done on An American Dream. “The workshop process revealed an unexpected resonance with one of the key themes of Nabucco, which we were already planning to present,” said Lang. “So we jumped at the opportunity to present the two works in parallel. In attending both operas, our audiences will inevitably have an even richer human experience than they would by seeing each piece in isolation.”
Belonging(s) Project and Production Sponsor: True-Brown Foundation
Main photo © Philip Newton | Photos © Dorothea Lange. War Relocation Authority 1942-1945, © Philip Newton